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The Europe Roundup: 30 Years of Hacking - a Profile of the Chaos Computer Club

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, November 10 2011

  • 30 Years of Hacking: a Profile of the Chaos Computer Club
    The Chaos Computer Club is well-known group that has been bringing together hackers from all over the world in the past few years. The group - that turned 30 last September - started in Hamburg and moved to Berlin before branching out around Germany and abroad, becoming the first organization of its kind in Europe.

    On Sabine Blanc and Ophelia Noor interviewed Andy Müller-Maguhn, a longtime member of the group, in order to explain the story of the group and their growing political influence when it comes to digital freedom and protection of privacy.
    The CCC was established by I.T. professionals who met to discuss the impact of I.T. tools and their use on society.

    Müller-Maguhn, who joined in 1985 at the age of 14, tells about the early days of the CCC and how it evolved in the years. The group congress and its magazine were particularly effective in bringing people of different classes together:

    People were playing around with technology that would become mainstream a decade later, like the Internet. This power to use the network to make something happen on the other side of the world with our small home computers, that was still something really special for us data travelers. At the time in Germany there was a big movement against government interference into the private lives of citizens, especially regarding the public census they wanted to carry out. 

    When I first arrived, there were 300 people. Today there are more than 3,500 of us, but we can’t accommodate everyone on the premises for health safety reasons. The congress has grown little by little, and the readership of the magazine has gone from 200 to a thousand people. The quarterly print edition was more important in the 90’s, but now the online news is what gets seen first.

    Many things have changed in the years: now many members have a job in the sector or own companies. But, even more importantly, the long history of engagement of the group made them a respected voice in the German media scenario:

    The German media have always seen us as people who know our stuff about technology, its benefits and dangers, and not as guys who work for companies with economic interests.   

    So we had the power to define ourselves and we have always used that. In the 90’s we were invited to government hearings on questions surrounding the regulation of telecommunications and privacy. We tried to organize public participation on these issues. 

    So we have a history of lobbying for more or less the last 20 years.

    We don’t necessarily want to be formally integrated within policy making, but we play an advisory role from the outside. They can’t afford to ignore us completely anymore. The politicians need our expertise and we’re very familiar with the laws, so we can point out their errors.

    The full interview also contains insights on the Pirate Party and on the CCC relation with former Wikileaks' spokesperson Daniel Domscheit-Berg, who was ousted by the group.

  • Germany | Apps4Germany launched 
    Last Tuesday the Apps4Germany competion was launched during the Modern State fair in Berlin.
    The contest is organised by three civil society organisations (The Open Data Network, the Gov2.0 Network and the German Chapter of the OKFN) in cooperation with BITKOM, the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media.

    The Apps 4 Germany contest will feature applications, developed using German Public Sector Information (recently opened up for re-use).
    All data will be released under CC-BY and can be accessed at the unofficial German Open Data Catalogue run by the German Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation.

  • EU | Making use of opendata: EP Intergroups and the network of UK MEPs
    Researcher and euroblogger Ronny Patz is working on possible uses of data from the EU institutions. After creating a public spreadsheet with the list of the European Parliament intergroups and their members (the information were only available as single PDFs), Patz tried to get more insights with the help of the network analysis. “Another interesting thing to look at would be to see whether intergroup membership can explain voting patterns" he said at the time.
    His first efforts focused on the network of UK Member of the European Parliament.

    Here's some of his findings:

    What you can see in the network picture above is that UK MEPs’ membership in intergroups is pretty much shaped by their left-right political group affiliation. The Conservatives, EFD and non-affiliated members cluster together as do the Socialists, Labour, Greens and the United Left. 

    [...] From such a picture one could start looking into specific sub-clusters like the three ECR women on the left or the green-liberal sub-network on the upper left. Through which groups are these MEPs linked, do they work together beyond the membership that links them because they share common interests? 

    Or one can look into indivdual MEPs like the liberal Bill Newton Dunn on the lower right who seems to be more connected to the Conservative cluster. And indeed, looking into his Wikipedia CV linked above, one can see that formerly he actually was a member of the ECR group. 

    Patz is still working on the analysis and the conversation is open and continues in the comments of his post.
    "These are the kind of insights and stories network analysis can provide and this is why open data is quite important for political science, journalism and a better understanding of politics, including in the European Union." he concludes.

Switzerland-based RedCut has released Citizen 2.0, a white paper of case studies that include 17 examples of social media and government innovation.